Poet, storyteller and children's author Marc Harshman was named West Virginia's poet laureate on Friday by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Harshman, a Wheeling resident and former West Virginia English Teacher of the Year, has published 11 children's books. He has received awards including the Smithsonian Notable Book for Children prize and the Parent's Choice Award.
"I'm pleased Marc has accepted this unique opportunity to serve as poet laureate," Tomblin said in a statement. "Whether it's one of his children's stories or a prose poem, Marc's creativity serves as a reminder of the immeasurable talent of West Virginia's authors. I hope, in this new capacity, he will continue to challenge himself and inspire a new generation of writers."
Harshman replaces Irene McKinney, who died in February after 18 years as the state's poet laureate.
Harshman was teaching a writing workshop at Waverly Elementary School in Wood County when he received a phone call from the governor's office telling him the news.
"It's funny because I felt rude when my cell phone started ringing in my pocket in the middle of the workshop. I had no idea that the call I ignored was an invitation to become the poet laureate," Harshman said Friday. "I was stunned - I'm still stunned, and humbled.
"As a young writer, I certainly didn't anticipate this, and a week ago, when I received the call, I didn't anticipate it. I thank the governor for his selection and recommendations."
Originally from Indiana, Harshman has spent most of his adult life in Wheeling with his wife, children's author Cheryl Ryan, and daughter, Sarah.
He earned his bachelor of arts degree at Bethany College, a master's degree in religion at Yale University Divinity School and a master's degree in English at the University of Pittsburgh.
Harshman said the culture of West Virginia and his fellow writers across the state continue to influence his work.